Pittura Infamante: An exploration of suicide

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dc.contributor Aalto University en
dc.contributor Aalto-yliopisto fi
dc.contributor.advisor N/A, N/A
dc.contributor.author Squires, Rebecca
dc.date.accessioned 2019-01-17T09:23:52Z
dc.date.available 2019-01-17T09:23:52Z
dc.date.issued 2018
dc.identifier.uri https://aaltodoc.aalto.fi/handle/123456789/36086
dc.description.abstract Pittura Infamante is the exploration of a past suicide, investigating the act and its aesthetics, enquiring into free will, societal coercion, intrinsic guilt and the desire for expiation. This study was conceived in two parts: a performance of self-hanging and a phenomenological textual exploration. Émile Durkheim posits that there are opposing forces at play in the compulsion toward suicide: egoistic and altruistic, anomic and fatalistic. Altruistic suicide, in which the over-integration of societal values precludes the expression of individual will, manifests itself as mass suicide, military martyrdom, or even sati, the suicide of a widow upon her dead husband’s pyre. Egoistic suicide is undertaken by the disaffected Other, or deviator of norms who is insufficiently integrated into society and therefore subject to its censure. Excessive regulation finds its outlet in the fatalistic suicide of a slave or prisoner, whereas anomic suicide, where one is adrift in a tumult of escalating desire that knows no satiation, Durkheim attributes to capitalism. Stjepan G. Meštrović sees these death and life forces as centrifugal and centripetal, which correspond to Freud’s diffusing, centrifugal death drive, and the unifying, centripetal life force of eros. Arthur Schopenhauer states that when circumstance impedes the expression of desire, that one might sacrifice the body, so that the will is left intact. He contends, however, that the one true act of free will is that of its dissolution, eroded away through knowledge of the real nature of the world. Compulsion toward death seems a requisite to life, and perception of self an impetus to criminality and suicide. Sigmund Freud says we seek out actions to substantiate unshakeable feelings of guilt and find something tangible to attach them to, thereby creating proof of the perceived moral turpitude, rendering us unworthy in partaking of life. This powerful shaming mechanism can also be turned against the individual that has incurred society’s rebuke, as seen in the defaming pictures of pitture infamanti and Schandbilder, wherein loss of face is akin to death. In the performative component of this study, the author/performer complies with society’s directive, hanging herself by the left foot as in the pittura infamante, with the audience as witness and executioner, complicit with such an act. Suicidality seems an in-built, self-destructive mode native to the human animal. In apoptosis, the cell dies to maintain the functioning of the organism, as in the suicide of the individual, so as not to compromise the societal regime. Like an immune system attacking itself, the full wrath of the societal ego is directed against the threat. Execution and suicide have always had the uncanny means of mutating meaning, from disgrace and humiliation to martyrdom and heroism, and finally transcendence and enlightenment. While the self-destructive impulse seems in-built, and when activated, its outcome inevitable, it is paradoxically tenuous and fragile. The state of acute suicidality lasts only about an hour, can be disrupted by intervention or inaccessibility to means, and once interrupted, these variables may never again align to an acute configuration. Emmanuel Levinas says that waiting for this one last tendril to snap is an imminent menace, as death comes to us, not us toward it. Hermann Burger makes the case that instead, we may contrive to meet our death at a time of our own determination, however, the moment of death still hovers in the air, suspended until its unknowable and yet ineluctable arrival. en
dc.format.extent 167
dc.language.iso en en
dc.title Pittura Infamante: An exploration of suicide en
dc.type G2 Pro gradu, diplomityö fi
dc.contributor.school Taiteiden ja suunnittelun korkeakoulu fi
dc.contributor.school School of Arts, Design and Architecture en
dc.contributor.department Department of Art en
dc.contributor.department Taiteen laitos fi
dc.subject.keyword suicide en
dc.subject.keyword hanging en
dc.subject.keyword voluntary death en
dc.subject.keyword self-hanging en
dc.subject.keyword suicidology en
dc.subject.keyword suicide from guilt en
dc.subject.keyword sociological factors in suicide en
dc.subject.keyword anomic suicide en
dc.identifier.urn URN:NBN:fi:aalto-201901171265
dc.type.ontasot Master's thesis en
dc.type.ontasot Maisterin opinnäyte fi
dc.contributor.supervisor Laakso, Harri
dc.programme Visual Cultures, Curating and Contemporary Art en
dc.programme ViCCA en


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